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Atlanta Ga. Local Scene

Hello Atlanta!
Hello Atlanta. My name is Bill Clifford and I'd like to welcome you to the new Atlanta local scene. You may have been familiar with my writing from a local monthly publication here in the southeast, or with Creative Loafing , Atlanta's weekly arts and entertainment paper for which I am still writing. I've spent the last two years working in the city's music scene and am proud to have this opportunity to share what I've learned with you.

It's been a while since Atlanta had a viable on-line option to turn to for what's hot not only in it's vivid hip-hop culture, but within the burgoning rock scene, the diverse pop music crowd, as well as the soul diva's and smokin' cats of the blues and jazz genre that the city has to offer, good things are to come. And that's not all. I've yet to discover every nook and cranny of this city's great wealth of talent and hope we can do this together. Feel free to email me with your comments and suggestions for this site, band news, or if you'd like to have your CD/concert reviewed here. I very much look forward to hearing from you.

Georgia's finest musical acts were very well represented at this year's festival. Unlike the previous month's Dogwood Festival , where he played a solo gig on an intimate acoustic stage, Kevin Kinney took to the 96 Rock stage backed magnificently by his full band, Drivin' N' Cryin' .(DNC) The classic rock anthems "Down By Law," "Build a Fire," and "Fly Me Courageous" all inspired a sea of fist pumping, hands in the air, sing-alongs. But it was one of the lesser-known Kinney originals, which set the tone for the rest of the weekend's acts to follow. As a glowing orange sun descended between the Bank of America Tower and the BellSouth building, Kinney's "Indian Song" proved why he is one of our most talented, but under appreciated songwriters.

The setting was every bit as surreal when the Black Crowes took to the 99x stage at the exact opposite end of the festival location. A three-quarter full moon hung high in a dark blue sky, with the Georgia Power building and Marriott Marquis hotel looming overhead. The band took the stage in a wash of southern rock and a wail of classic rock guitars, turned all the way up. The music was so loud to begin with, it made Chris Robinson's vocals almost indecipherable. "We're going to do some old songs too," he said as a means to an introduction for the staple, "Sting Me," after opening with two new songs from the forth coming "LIONS" which was released this Tuesday. Watch for a review of that CD right here in the upcoming weeks. The band's set ran the gamut from the harder edged, "Stare It Cold" to the much more subdued "Ballad In Urgency", which gave way to "Wiser Days" a track from the band's "Amorica" CD.

The Josh Joplin Group gave proper representation to the pop music genre. The band recently released a new recording on Danny Goldberg' s Artemis Records. Fans recognized the technical difficulties that seemed to plague the band at recent Atlanta area performances even though they had graduated from a locals only to the main stage. "There will be a band after us on that stage," said Joplin, referring to the 99X locals only stage behind the assembled crowd. "We played that stage for four years, and this is our first on this stage," he continued this time refering to the 99X main stage. "This is written for Phil Ochs," he said of the song by the late songwriters' name. "But tonight we dedicate it to Joey Ramone." Josh was in good company name checking the late Ramone, as he was the subject of many tributes over the weekend. Joplin's set remained true to the new release, and included a steady take on "Gravity," "Matter" and a heart wrenching acoustic version of "I've Changed".

Dressed simply in a pair of khakis, a green tee, and the exact same shade of green sun glasses, John Mayer took the Fox stage by storm. His set brought the largest crowd to the smaller, more intimate stage, located in a secluded locale just off Piedmont. "I'm not stepping off this stage until I can't sing no more," he said enthused by the warm reception and large crowd, which consisted mainly of college girls and frat boys. His deeply heartfelt and personal lyrics inspired quite a few sing-a-longs, while his genuine good looks inspired quite a few screams as well. He was clearly comfortable on stage, and glad to be back in Georgia after having been touring the nation. "Let's all go to my house," he joked. He stuck mainly to songs from his independently released studio work, "Inside Wants Out", ("My Stupid Mouth," "Neon," "Love Song For no One") which was interesting considering he's set to release a new recording on a major label later this month.

Sunday gave witness to the most local bands playing the festival through the whole weekend, beginning with four winners in the Next Level Competition. Four Atlanta bands won the right to perform at Midtown on the four main stages hosted by the radio stations. Gurufish, a funky, retro styled ten piece brought the vibes to the V103 stage, while Slangbanger kicked it out loud and proud on the 96 Rock stage. 6 Against 7 counted down on the 99X stage, while over on the Z93 stage Ghost Train rode out a jam heavy set. Unable to split myself in four to cover all acts, I decided to stick it out in the area that housed three of the four stages. Ghost Train drew the largest crowd, many fans knew their originals even though the band has only been together since August. It's not far fetched to compare their blues drenched, guitar and percussion laden classic rock sound to that of the early days of the Allman Brothers Band. Watch for a feature on them in the coming months .

Evan & Jaron is a band that we Georgians should be very proud of. They combine the boy-band looks and sounds of N'Sync, with the harmonies and songwriting talent of pop legends Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow of the Poises. The identical twins have been performing since 1993, went through the major label grind and survived. Now, having won over fans nationwide through grass roots touring, the band is finally receiving the critical acclaim and accolades they deserve. Although they were very oddly placed on the 99X stage, the band had the young teenage crowd (mostly girls) out in full force. Midway though the song "From My Head To My Heart" the young crowd busted out the beach balls. "Every so often we like to take a song that is not ours and ruin it," said Evan; or was that Jaron? They dropped out a country version of the AC/DC classic "You Shook Me All Night Long" before encoring with, what else, their current radio single "Crazy For The Girl".

The Indigo Girls performed twice over the weekend; once inside the Civic Center in a storyteller styled Saturday night performance; and on Sunday, outside on the 99X stage, both times sans a full band. It was a low-key performance that harkened back to their earliest incarnations of a band that got its start at Eddie's Attic in Decatur. The girls ran though a greatest hits set, "Closer To Fine," "Thin Line" "Power Of Two" while including only one new song mid-set. They closed out with a haunting and eerie version "Kid Fears" that silenced the crowd.

Soup, on the other hand, boiled over with enthusiasm as soon as the Indigo Girls' set was over. From the Locals Only stage, the band's high energy and pop rock oriented sound beckoned the crowd over to hear them. From the opening notes of the brand new "Where Are You Now" the beach balls were bouncing over head. "My Life Is Complete", another new song, followed and included audience participation in the form of handclaps raised over head. "Marvin Wright" told the tale of a troubled youngster who went to a music festival in the middle of Atlanta, caught a band on stage called the Marvelous 3, heard another band called Train and met a beautiful girl named Virginia. Soup has been holed up in their studio writing and recording new music, and has gotten out occasionally to share the new tunes with an audience. Of the six songs played that night, four were new. If nothing else, Soup certainly took the cake for the best marketing move, passing out over 10,000 stickers with their name and webpage address on it. It's no wonder why this band has earned the reputation as Atlanta's best party band.

Overall, the three-day festival was an incredible success from the get go. Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals, Patti Smith, Bob Dylan , among others all put on stellar sets. The event was a huge success for everyone involved.

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